To launch its first ute in a category built on stereotypical toughness, Mercedes-Benz Vans is challenging category norms with an integrated campaign, 'Tough Conversations' created by The Royals.
For decades, the ute segment has prided itself on the physical characteristics associated with 'toughness'. Mercedes-Benz Vans and The Royals set out to challenge these stereotypes in the launch campaign for the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class by exploring what toughness means today - with help from iconic punk rocker Henry Rollins.
The integrated content-driven campaign, 'Tough Conversations', includes a podcast series, radio partnership, PR, eDMs, social and online content, and a one-hour documentary to air on ONE in April.
To create the content, Mercedes-Benz Vans commissioned iconic punk rocker, actor, radio host, writer, and social commentator Henry Rollins to take a road trip across the country, talking to Australians from all walks of life about what toughness means to them.
'Tough Conversations' explores the evolution of toughness to encompass not just strength, aggression and towing capability, but resolve, overcoming adversity and strength of character. Its intention is to shine a light on the reality that toughness can come in many forms. By highlighting the evolution of 'tough' - a highly valued Aussie trait - Mercedes-Benz aims to reflect the values of a more progressive audience and connect with a new type of ute driver.
CEO and managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand, Diane Tarr, said 'Tough Conversations' was an opportunity to celebrate a modern kind of toughness.
Says Tarr: "To launch the X-Class in a mature ute market like Australia, we knew we needed to do something different to get Australians to understand that the X-Class stands for something more than the stereotypical toughness."
Tarr said 'Tough Conversations' provided an ideal platform to do this: "We've all been really moved by the conversations Henry had on the road. He is a true embodiment of the evolution of tough and that makes him the perfect person to lead these conversations. He also has an ability like nobody else to get to the heart of a conversation, and to delve deep. We're thrilled we can now share this with Australian audiences."
Says Nick Cummins, creative partner, The Royals: "The X-Class ute is the first of its kind. It's a new kind of tough. This got us thinking about Australians and tough. Many Australians are sick of the outdated stereotype of what tough means - hiding your emotions or working out at the gym till something bursts.
"To explore what tough really means to Australians today we turned to Henry Rollins - a man who has evolved from a head-butting, fist-fighting frontman to an intellectual touring the world with his Spoken Word concerts, challenging outdated beliefs and traditions. Henry has a curious mind and a way of drawing stories out of all kinds of people that have led to an intriguing exploration, and, some really tough conversations."
The campaign has already gained extensive PR coverage; the podcast reached number 1 on the iTunes charts within its first week of release and Network Ten has picked up the documentary to air on ONE on 18 April at 9:30pm. The documentary will also be available to stream on TenPlay after that date.
The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Android, Spotify and all other podcast platforms.